Being questioned by the police is a frightening, and intimidating, experience for the average person. People are often vaguely aware that they have rights under the circumstances; however, they frequently waive those rights, either intentionally or inadvertently. More often than you may think, people even confess to crimes – sometimes to crimes they did not commit! If you are one of those people who confessed to a crime, whether you are actually guilty or not, you may think you are as good as convicted based on your confession. Fortunately, that is not necessarily the case. There is a good chance that an experienced Smyrna criminal defense attorney can still help you even if you confessed to the crime with which you have been charged.
Were You in Custody at the Time of the Confession?
Everything about your confession will be relevant when determining how to deal with it in your defense. Specifically, the circumstances surrounding your confession matter. Were you in “custody” at the time of the confession? This is a more complicated question than it sounds; however, the answer is crucial. Your attorney can evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding your confession to determine if you were legally “in custody” at the time. Generally speaking though, you are in custody if you are not free to leave even if you have not officially been placed under arrest yet.
Your Constitutional Rights
Once you are considered to be in custody, the police are required to advise you of your rights, including your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. Prior to that point in time, the police can question you without being required to read you your rights first. Defendants often think they can get a confession “thrown out” based on the fact that the officer never read them their rights; however, that is only a possibility of the defendant was considered to be in custody at the time. In your case, however, if you were in custody and the officer failed to read you your rights, it could be grounds to exclude your confession.
Did You Ask for an Attorney?
In a police interrogation, the magic words for the suspect are “I want an attorney,” or words to that effect. The minute a suspect asks for an attorney, questioning is supposed to stop until the suspect has the opportunity to consult with an attorney. This applies even if the suspect originally agreed to talk to the police without an attorney present. As soon as an attorney is requested, questioning must stop. If you asked for an attorney and were not provided with one prior to your confession, it could be cause to exclude the confession.
Was the Confession Voluntary?
Yet another fact specific question. For the confession to be admissible, it must have been voluntary on your part. When determining if a confession was voluntary, a court looks at the “totality of the circumstances.” Factors the court may consider when determining if a confession was voluntary include:
- Length of the interrogation
- Deprivation of basic essential, such as food and water
- Age, education, and mental capacity of the suspect
- Conduct of the police during the questioning
How Can a Smyrna Criminal Defense Attorney Help?
A confession does not always equal a conviction. A Smyrna criminal defense attorney can help you in several ways despite your confession. First, your attorney will protect your rights for the duration of the case to ensure that you don’t do anything you shouldn’t. Second, your attorney may find grounds on which to try and exclude the confession altogether. Finally, if the confession cannot be excluded, your attorney will do everything possible to minimize its impact at trial or to negotiate guilty plea agreement in your favor based on your “cooperation.”
If you confessed to a crime in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna criminal defense attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible so your attorney can start minimizing the damage. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.